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McNamara Seeks Increased U.S. Operations in South Vietnam

Mar. 13, 1964 - Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recommended to President Johnson today a program of increased operations against the Communist Viet Cong guerrillas in South Vietnam.

McNamara, reporting on his five-day mission to that country, did not rule out occasional guerrilla raids against North Vietnam. But he stressed the importance of concentrating on the elimination of the insurgents in the South.

McNamara was reported to have advised the President that, as in the past, the U.S. should not commit U.S. forces to direct combat with the Viet Cong. The U.S should retain its role of training personnel and providing equipment, he said.

In addition, the Secretary was said to have called for increased economic support for the regime of General Nguyen Khanh. McNamara and members of his delegation were reportedly impressed by the general’s efforts to win popular support.

The delegation returned from Vietnam this morning and met with President Johnson at the White House for about an hour in the early afternoon. Earlier, upon arriving at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, McNamara expressed qualified optimism about ultimate victory in Vietnam.

“In the entire week, I did not talk to a single responsible official who was unable to agree that, if the proper effort is made, the war can be won,” he said.

The belief prevailed in Washington that Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge supported the McNamara report and that his personal assessment of Khanh had been influential in the recommendation to back the Premier, who seized power on Jan. 30.


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